Äddi (goodbye) Luxembourg!October 8, 2017 in Luxembourg
We try to enter each country with an open mind and with as few preconceptions as possible but to be honest, in our heart of hearts we weren't looking forward to touring Luxembourg. It wasn't anything specific against the country, it was the fact we'd spent 3 and a half months in the beautiful, remote, peaceful countries of Norway and Sweden and had fallen in love with life up there. We found ourselves clinging to their memory as we travelled down through Denmark and Germany and the roads became more congested, the towns more frequent and busy, the people more hurried and seemingly less relaxed.
Luxembourg therefore had a hard act to follow. After 2 weeks of touring, here are our thoughts on our time in this little country:
As we've mentioned before, we had good recommendations of places to visit from our nephew Dave, whose Dad is from Luxembourg. We scanned our Lonely Planet guide but decided on 'Dave's Discovery Tour'!
Luxembourg is a small country and we found ourselves able to set a relaxing pace, staying in many places for 2 nights and only travelling short distances between them. It gave us time to get out and explore by foot, bike and canoe, because we weren't too tired from driving. The roads were good quality, if slightly too narrow for our 3.5t van to go as fast as a car would along the winding woodland roads that followed the course of river valleys.
When planning our stay we looked at the relatively few stellplatz with a little apprehension, as we'd been unable to find out definitively whether wild camping was allowed. Again, the compact nature of the country came in to play- despite there being only a handful of official stopovers, we were never far from one and are now confindent wild camping is allowed. Each of the places we stayed was free, as were most of the service points. Some, such as Redange and Dudelange even had free electricity! The only improvement would have been better recycling facilities. Parking for daytime visits was also free and usually easy to access, even in the capital city at the weekends! Only a few towns such as Echternach and Esch-sur-Sûre deterred motorhome parking in certain places. This combined with the cheap fuel, short driving distances and affordable food and drink, made Luxembourg an inexpensive place for us to visit.
Coming from Scandinavia, the weather was pleasantly warm for September/ October and we enjoyed several days topping up on vitamin D in our t-shirts. Early Autumn was a great time of year to visit; many Luxembourgeois towns are nestled in forested river valleys and linked by woodland corridors. We got to watch the leaves changing to red, yellow, orange and brown before they were blown off in flurries that created gorgeous seasonal carpets. We get the feeling that in summer, the narrow streets and small car parks get packed. As it was, we parked easily and avoided the crowds. Historic settlements were able to exude their natural charm as we explored their quaint shops, stoic castles and pretty stone churches at our own unhurried pace.
One of the things we relished about Luxembourg was getting back to using the small independent shops such as bakeries. They had been in short supply in Sweden and Norway, the only difficulty here was which one to choose! Because eatery prices are about on par with the UK we were able to return to treating ourselves to a meal out once a week- another thing we'd missed up north. We found the beer wasn't really to our taste but there was a good selection of white wines from the Moselle Valley vineyards that more than made up for this.
The people we encountered were friendly and easy going. With close to 180,000 people making a daily cross border commute to work in Luxembourg, the country is used to foreigners and we were fascinated by the mix of tongues. Letzeburgesch, French and German are all official languages and many locals move fluidly between them when talking to different people. English is also widely spoken which was a bonus for us!
If you spend even a small amount of time touring Luxembourg you will gain a strong sense of where it is in Europe. We had a lot of fun walking and paddling our canoe over the French and German borders and to end our visit we drove into Belgium. It also made us think about how much we value the freedom of movement we are gifted with in the Schengen Area.
Most of the places we stayed were in small towns but we were never far from nature. Luxembourg's natural treasure is its meandering rivers and their steep sided, forest covered valleys, glowing with the golden hues of autumn and often filled with mist as you wake. We were given access to both woodland and water and revelled in many a happy hour spent hiking through glades and gliding over the top of gently flowing currents.
Two weeks was a good amount of time for us to spend touring Luxembourg; you could stay longer in each spot and of course there were lots of places we didn't see. However, it is a country you can get to know well in a relatively short time and we feel we have gone a good way towards doing this. From an unenthusiastic start, this quaint and charming little country has won us round. We now think fondly of it, because lets face it, when it comes to Luxembourg, what's not to like?
Thanks again to Dave and his Dad for their 'Discovery Tour'!Read more